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ERIC Number: ED567899
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 213
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-3395-1610-3
The Pennsylvania State University Child Sexual Abuse Scandal: An Analysis of Institutional Factors Affecting Response
Holland, Alice R.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Widener University
The outcomes of The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) child sexual abuse scandal have left many scholars and individuals questioning the university's collective identity. The goal of this research was to uncover the dominant themes that describe a problematic institutional response to the child sexual abuse incidents in order to provide information on institutional failure at Penn State that may encourage better practices at other institutions, including change in their response to crises. Initially, I drew parallels and differences across research findings related to institutional abuse, child sexual abuse, sex scandals, and response to crisis. After establishing themes in the many literatures about the ways institutions respond to sexual abuse scandals and the causes of institutional failure, I completed a critical case study of the Penn State situation specifically. Data sources were literature written in response to Penn State's child sexual abuse scandal. In this analysis I looked for examples of causes of institutional failure that happened in the Penn State case that are related to the dynamics that are present in the literature on other institutions, specifically the Catholic Church. I also used conceptual models addressing organizational crises to provide frameworks on institutional crisis response reaction. Analysis revealed that a patriarchal organization and use of euphemistic language facilitated an internal cover up, while civic brand fetishism and finances fueled Penn State's institutional response to the child sexual abuse scandal. This analysis further exposed organizational ignorance on how to identify and address male rape. Social identity theory of leadership provided a unique lens to view group-level phenomenon surrounding the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal. A reality-oriented approach assisted me in studying institutional structure so that the findings correspond as much as possible to the real world. Logical generalizations on lessons learned from one institutional setting can encourage other institutional systems to place effort on prevention, control, and effective response to child sexual abuse. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania